What is Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is an infection in the mastoid bone (located on the back side of your ear) of the middle ear. It is an infection caused by bacteria in the mastoid bone. The mastoid bone connects the middle portion of the ear with the skull and throat. It has an important biological function in the human anatomy. The bone has air spaces, which drains particles out of the middle ear. It is essential for the ear to, therefore, receive air. When a person contacts bacteria, then the mastoid cells get infected and swollen. Mastoid bone is a very important structure of the ear, even though it is not visible like other bones. This bone is soft, spongy, and consists of air sacs.

If an infection occurs, it can also lead to skull infection. A skull infection is a very serious health condition as it leads to brain abscess (or cerebral abscess). An abscess is a collection of pus in the tissues and can lead to severe inflammation and collection of infected material in the brain.

Mastoiditis Symptoms

Some common symptoms of mastoiditis include:

  • Ear drainage or discharge from the ear.
  • Pain in the ear.
  • Fever.
  • Headaches.
  • Discomfort in hearing.
  • Irritation.
  • Swelling behind the ear.
  • Softening of ear muscles, and redness.

Causes Mastoiditis

The most common reason for mastoiditis is the middle ear infection (otitis media). The bacteria present in the middle ear will affect the air cells of the mastoid bone. Mastoiditis can also occur because of cholesteatoma. It is a condition in which abnormal cells accumulate in skin cells (of the middle ear). It leads to inflammation in the middle year, spreading the infection to the mastoid bone.

Mastoiditis Risks

Some of the common risks of mastoiditis are:

  • Brain abscess.
  • Blood clot.
  • Meningitis.

Prevention of Mastoiditis

Following are some measures that can be followed to prevent mastoiditis:

  • Preventive antibiotics to remove the infection.
  • Covering your mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Taking proper pneumococcal vaccine.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor at Medanta might use the following measures to diagnose mastoiditis: 


How is it treated?

The treatment includes:


  • Antibiotics

    Antibiotics will be given to treat the infection. The medication is given through intravenous (IV) injection. Oral antibiotics are also prescribed later. Severe infection cases will require hospitalization, as it can be a serious health disorder.

  • Surgery

    A surgical intervention is only required, if the antibiotic treatment does not clear the infection. During the surgery, a portion of the mastoid bone will be removed for drainage (of the infection). The middle ear will also be drained for the infected fluid that has accumulated inside.

When do I contact the doctor?

If the symptoms are persistent, along with a severe ear pain, consult a doctor immediately. Fluid, pus, or bleeding from the ear is a serious indication. 

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